The increase in household consumption in Canberra ("ACT households defy national gloom", canberratimes.com.au, December 5) which was somewhat breathlessly welcomed by the Chief Minister as a sign of the strength of the ACT economy warrants some analysis.
The actual increase was reported as 0.4 per cent but was in fact 0.35 per cent. In any event it represents an increase in the quarter of approximately $17 million on a total annual household consumption of $4.851 billion.
What is interesting is that almost two thirds of the increase of $17 million was a result of an increase in rent and other household services and from health expenditure, notably co-payments.
It is reasonable to attribute these extra household costs to decisions deliberately taken by the ACT Government to firstly reduce expenditure on public health thus forcing working class people without private health insurance to access the private system and secondly, to constrain the supply of land for housing in order to increase land revenue, which has resulted in Canberra now boasting the highest rents in the country.
The national accounts data reveals that the increase in ACT household expenditure (consumption) on rent, housing services and health was, unsurprisingly matched by falls in expenditure on food, clothing, cafes, restaurants, leisure, alcohol, footwear and a range of other consumer items.
I find it strange that the Canberra Business Chamber and others have expressed pleasure at this outcome.
Jon Stanhope, Bruce
You have to love Barnaby Joyce's self-satisfaction with "his" Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority's ability to "handle" agricultural and veterinary substances' approvals more quickly since losing experienced staff in droves after its bizarre outback relocation.
Perhaps Coalition governments' general solution to due regulatory approval times is to replace process with a rubber-stamp, lest time be frittered away considering critical issues like, for example, glyphosate safety.
Don't even get me started about the delays developers have to suffer for their apartment project approvals, but I think I know a sure-fire way to solve that.
Alex Mattea, Sydney, NSW
Pull the other one
It is beyond belief the Minister for Energy and Emission Reduction, Angus Taylor, expects us to accept his office downloaded incorrect travel figures from the City of Sydney Council website.
As Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital transformation, then later the Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity you would think he'd have some understanding of computer systems, IP addresses and how easily they can be traced.
This can only end in tears unless the intervention of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General can neutralise the situation with the phone call to the NSW police commissioner.
It is beyond belief the Minister for Energy and Emission Reduction, Angus Taylor, expects us to accept his office downloaded incorrect travel figures from the City of Sydney Council website.R F Bollen, Torrens
To uphold what's left of the public's confidence in ministerial accountability the minister has two choices. One is to take responsibility for this fiasco. The other is to throw a staffer under the bus (Michaelia Cash style), pull the shutters down and spend the rest of his political career behind a whiteboard.
R F Bollen, Torrens
Scott Morrison had discovered the quiet Australians. It is a shame that the Canberra Liberals cannot find them. For too long some rogue players in the construction industry have been using serial bankruptcies to avoid any legal responsibility for the poor construction and dangerous cost-cutting. Dodgy developers use a process called phoenixing in which the same principals and board members
re-emerge after bankruptcy.
The quiet Australians hurt in this process are couples and families trying to put a roof over their heads and Mum and Dad investors putting aside a modest nest egg for their retirement. But perhaps those most hurt are self-employed tradespeople and small sub-contractors, who time and again find that they have not been paid.
These are the natural constituents of the Liberal Party. By all means call for more consultation with Canberra's power developers lobby groups (loud and noisy Australians)? But this must be in the context of putting an end to the serial bankruptcy rort.
Noel Baxendell, Macgregor
Nicholas Stuart says we must find a solution to climate change. I agree. Michael McCarthy (Letters, December 4) suggests we should be doing things ourselves.
Cynic that I am, I feel this plea will largely fall on deaf ears. It requires government commitment to force citizens to do something together (like daylight saving?), otherwise the free riders will negate any gains made by the goodies.
The optimist in me still hopes for action. It is a matter of bemusement to me that this national government does not embrace a market-based carbon price method.
Yes, this was originally proposed by John Howard and expanded by the (first) Rudd government but the revered Bob Menzies was not averse to taking someone else's ideas and implementing them as his policy.
Furthermore it is just possible that the State governments, if they were so inclined, could make a major step forward by acting together particularly on how to adapt to the built-in changes yet to come.
James Walcott, Mawson
Take your gains
The students in Hong Kong have achieved a lot. However, as China's treaty with Britain means it has a strong hold over Hong Kong (it is currently set to expire in 2047), they should now be more conscious of the situation they are in.
It would be timely to accept whatever concessions may flow from their success in the elections, however small, and not push for more. Their present freedoms have a use-by date (2047).
They should lay down their arms. Further demonstrations may accelerate the loss of the current "one country, two systems" arrangement. Hong Kong would certainly lose any possibility of the current arrangement being extended beyond 2047.
Herman van de Brug, Kaleen
Who is the terrorist?
I find it disturbing that a group of 200 people, peacefully demonstrating to protect us and the environment from the ravages of climate change outside Parliament House last Thursday, can be subjected to a heavy handed police presence because they are regarded as eco-terrorists waiting to act.
Yet a much larger group, wanting to deplete the Murray Darling waterways even further and continue the destruction of the natural environment, are given free rein at the same place on Monday.
Who are the real eco-terrorists? Or is this just a term thought up to brand people who want to do something about climate change as criminals just like we call refugees who come here by boat criminals?
In my mind, the biggest eco-terrorist is the Prime Minister who smugly gives us platitudes while the country burns as it has never done before.
Elizabeth Dangerfield, Crace
There cannot be an absolute guarantee that pill testing would have saved the life of the 24 year old who died at the music festival in Tocumwal ("Death a Tragedy", Letters, December 5) but there sure is a significant likelihood that it could have.
Pill testing has been carried out over the last 25 years in over 30 countries and is one of the best proven strategies for reducing drug-related harm. The evidence shows that it reduces the amount and variety of drugs consumed in a session.
At a trial of pill testing in the ACT in 2018, those who were alerted to the dangers of the pills they were about to take, all threw them in the amnesty bin.
So yes, if government-mandated pill testing had been allowed at the Tocumwal festival there is every chance that this young man would be alive to tell the tale.
And isn't a chance better than the alternative.
M McConnell, Giralang
The effluence of affluence
What a pathetic little zone we live in, more and more digitised by algorithms calculated to capture attention for profit. The more discord, envy and fear is spread the more profit gets made. Your magazine Desire plays into that.
A superfluous chunk of paper arrives telling me of stuff I didn't know I needed. In the words of the ABC Vanity Fair MC: "We strive mightily for that which is not worth having".
What people desire most is secure access to food, shelter and meaningful work and the peace to get on with it. Money cannot buy better than that.
Meanwhile our beautiful planet burns, drowns and freezes around us. We need to re-design our system. There are good options out there.
Peter Cooper, Greenway
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